Cebu News

Cuenco: Not practical to remove skywalks

Iris Hazel Mascardo - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — Chairman of the Committee on Transportation of the Cebu City Council said that the intention of Mayor Michael Rama to replace the skywalks with pedestrian tunnels is an “impractical innovation.”

In an interview yesterday, Cebu City Councilor James Anthony Cuenco, chairman of the Commission of Transportation of the City Council, said that the plans to replace skywalks with tunnel pedestrians will affect the current transportation dynamic of the city.

He said that once construction commences, the lack of alternative routes for vehicles may result in more traffic congestion, citing the example brought by the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit (CBRT) construction.

According to Cuenco, ideas such as pedestrian tunnels are supposed to be planned and studied. He said that digging up the city roads should have engineering studies, adding that what is underneath is yet to be uncovered.

"It will take years to realize even one tunnel, not to mention how many tunnels are there? Ten? So mag build tag 10 tunnels? It's really very impractical," said Cuenco.

It was reported that Mayor Rama wants all remaining skywalks in the city to be removed saying they no longer serve their purpose. He cited factors such as being inhabited by informal settlers and occupying most parts of the sidewalks, reducing its width for the people to pass through.

According to Cuenco, these concerns can be addressed even without the removal of the skywalks. On the problem of informal settlers occupying the space, Cuenco said this can be addressed by bringing in law enforcement such as the Department of Public Services (DPS).

He also laid down solutions such as assigning particular employees to monitor the area and the usage of skywalks. Aside from these, cleaning and redecorating the skywalks will be a more "practical" solution rather than removing them.

"More importantly, ato g’yung tarungong og patuman bitaw kanang pag-ayo anang existing karon nga skywalk, kay for now it is really difficult if tanan natong pedestrians will be crossing the thoroughfares, grabe na gani kaayo ka traffic," said Cuenco.

Further, Cuenco also cited that the skywalk on Maxilom Avenue, right in front of the Robinson’s is "very convenient" for the pedestrians saying that it already connects to an establishment.

In a previous report, Rama said that among the defeated purposes of skywalks is its direct linkage to a business establishment.

To Cuenco there are many ways to improve the present skywalks, adding that these are still useful contrary to the mayor's assessment.

He also said that to also fully impose monitoring in the said skywalks CCTV cameras may be installed. Aside from this an ordinance may be also passed with provisions specifically to tackle the protection of the skywalks.

"We can pass the ordinance to penalize...there are a lot of ways of doing it," said Cuenco.

Cuenco also said he is willing to take the initiative of crafting these concerns in a proper resolution before the City Council. But he wants to make sure first that the mayor is serious with the said vision.

"I want to know if the mayor is serious about it. You know these ideas are spur of the moment ba because (he said) sa Melbourne ingon-ani kopyahon na pud," said Cuenco.

Cuenco emphasized that even "premium" cities like Makati are still using skywalks, indicating its feasibility among pedestrians. (CEBU NEWS)

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